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GOP leader's attempt to force gay marriage debate fails

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Iowa House Minority Leader Chris Rants on Tuesday failed in his attempt to use an unusual political maneuver to bring a resolution on same-sex marriage to the House floor for debate.

Rants, R-Sioux City, wanted to push a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage out of the Judiciary Committee, claiming that Democratic leaders have been holding back the legislation.

Rants tried to force the resolution by employing a rare rule that would have required the entire House chamber to vote whether the measure should be lifted out of committee and put on the debate schedule. He had claimed there was bipartisan support to do that as long as Democratic leaders didn't try to influence their members to vote along party lines.

However, the House did vote along party lines, with 50 Democrats voting against Rants' motion and 46 Republicans voting for it. Four House members were absent or not voting, including three Democrats.

Rants called the vote disappointing, saying some of the House members who voted for the same amendment in 2005 voted against bringing it out of committee on Tuesday.

"I guess they will have to explain to their constituents why they flip-flopped," he said.

Iowa law already defines marriage as between a man and woman, but that law has been challenged and is now before the Iowa Supreme Court. Rants said a constitutional amendment would protect traditional marriage from judicial challenge.

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